Veterinary businesses were well on their way to transforming their operations with web-based software and mobile technology when the pandemic began. Then, once social distancing became necessary, veterinary businesses found that they had to adapt their processes again. The challenge wasn’t finding ways to sustain business remotely or with limited capacity – it was meeting customer expectations for safety and service with a full schedule.
Nisha Begum, ISV Relationship Manager for First American Payment Systems, says, “Veterinary practices are essential. On top of that, with more people working from home and spending more time with their pets, they’ve been more focused on pet care. Vets are seeing patients back to back.”
How Veterinary Services Are Adapting
While demand for veterinary services has increased, so has the demand for contactless environments. Some veterinary businesses have gone as far as offering “curbside care,” where veterinary technicians meet pet owners at their cars, take pets inside their facilities for care, and then return pets to their owners outside.
Begum says, overall, veterinary businesses want to create touchless experiences from a pet owner’s initial contact through payment and follow up. Before these offices provide care, they need software that enables pet owners to schedule services in an online portal, complete intake forms, and enroll in recurring services, if applicable. Following care, veterinary businesses need software that provides the means to communicate instructions to the pet owner and accept payments.
“You need to look at software features from a consumer’s point of view,” Begum says. “People want their pets to be taken care of, and they appreciate features designed for their convenience. Veterinary businesses recognized this before COVID-19, but now it’s at the forefront.” She adds that if software doesn’t meet these businesses’ needs, they’ll seek out in-demand features from third parties.
Begum also noted that prior to the pandemic, the trend in the industry was toward omnichannel, integrated payments, including the ability to accept contactless payment cards or near-field communications (NFC) mobile wallets. “They still use the point of sale (POS) and card readers for in-person onsite payments,” she says. “However, they definitely need other capabilities, such as e-commerce and mobile payments for contactless and touchless experiences. Those practices that thought ahead about contactless payments are the ones persevering now.”
Rethinking the Veterinary Business “Point of Sale”
Begum says even though the pandemic has created serious challenges for veterinary businesses – as well as businesses in other verticals – there is a positive side to 2020. For software developers, it’s a clear understanding of how they can make their applications better.
“If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we need to take a different perspective when considering the point of sale,” she says. “Now, we’re living in a world where there’s a stigma of using cash and cards. We need to let go of the archaic mentality of how payments should be.”
“Will the POS become obsolete? Probably not. But the future is fully integrated and it requires secure payments that allow veterinary offices to offer touchless experiences,” she says. “The pandemic is driving technology advancements, and those changes will be permanent.”
“There’s still time for businesses to adapt and not only survive but thrive,” she says. “With the help of ISVs, they are seeing that it’s possible.”